The UK Independence Party (UKIP) are set to hold a pro-union rally in Glasgow this month, just days ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence. Party Leader Nigel Farage will be joined by the Scottish Party Chairman Arthur Misty Thackery, and a number of senior elected members in giving pro-union speeches at the event.
“This rally is to show that the UK is one single united country, and we have our fellow Scots and Britons all over the UK who want us to stay together,” Mr Thackery told The Scotsman.
The official campaign for Scottish unity is being run by Better Together, a cross-party organisation headed by Labour politician and ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling. There has been some suggestion in the press that Better Together had spurned Ukip, a notion that Mr Thackery was dismissive of.
“The press continue to say that Better Together refuse to have us on board,” Mr Thackery said.
“I would like to state for the record, we have never asked them to be on board and we don’t want to be on board with Better Together.
“We are taking a more direct, straight talking, hard hitting defence of the Union as opposed to what our MEP David Coburn described as the ‘wishy-washy’ attitude of Better Together.”
“That wishy-washy attitude was demonstrated quite perfectly by Jim Murphy deciding to abandon his speaking tour in the face of what is, quite frankly, violence and intimidation from the usual suspects on the other side.”
Mr Murphy is the Labour Member of Parliament representing East Renfrewshire, Scotland. This summer he decided to go on a speaking tour of Scotland, visiting 100 venues to promote British unity and provoke debate. Writing in The Spectator he explained: “Me, my makeshift stage of two upturned Irn-bru crates, a microphone, one of those small speaker-amps, a one or two-strong road crew, take it to the streets.
“Thousands of people have taken part. Most of them have never been to a political meeting in their lives but this is aimed as politics coming to them on their high streets. … It has been real people from all sides of the debate having passionate discussions. It works best when there is genuine disagreement and heated questioning.”
However, he recently called off the tour in the face of what he described as intimidation from the Yes Campaign (for Scottish Independence):
“The tone of the meetings took a turn for the worse after the first TV debate. Alex Salmond [Scottish First Minister] had done badly, and there seemed to be some panic amongst many of the local Yes campaigners.
“In town after town it’s no longer undecided voters going about their shopping that I’m meeting but instead there are Yes crowds occupying the street corners I’m due to speak at. Regularly I get called a terrorist and often a paedophile too.
“Ugly. But is it spontaneous ugliness? No, it’s not. … It’s coordinated, determined and increasingly aggressive. I don’t know how high up it goes in the Yes campaign but I do know how widespread it is.”
Commenting on Mr Murphy’s decision to abandon the remainder of his tour, Mr Thackery told The Scotsman: “We take a position that we will not be intimidated off the streets, and if Jim wants any support on his speaking tour when he goes back out there we are happy to join him make sure he stays safe.”
The Glasgow venue for UKIP’s rally will not be announced until nearer the day, for security reasons. Also speaking at the event will be David Coburn, UKIP MEP for Scotland, Nathan Gill, UKIP MEP for Wales, Northern Irish UKIP Councillor Henry Reilley and Margot Parker, UKIP MEP for the East Midlands who is of Scottish heritage.
The party has received a cool welcome from the Scots in the past – in May 2013 Nigel Farage was evacuated from an Edinburgh pub in a police riot van after a crowd of protestors turned on him, barricading him inside. He later described the protestors as “yobbo fascist scum”.